Rincon de la Victoria is sometimes described by local residents as a “dormitory town”. Situated just 12km east of Malaga, it makes a convenient base for those who work in the city but prefer sea breezes and beaches, and the relative tranquillity of an overgrown fishing village.
It is also a popular place for the Spanish to “veranear” (spend the summer months) and many families have their second home here. The municipality of Rincon includes the neighbouring fishing village of La Cala and the pretty inland village of Benagalbon.
Rapid expansion in the last five years or so, however, with apartment blocks springing up literally overnight, has meant that services are overstretched in July and August. The winter population of 26, 600 inhabitants almost triple during this period. Those of us who live here breathe a sigh of relief when the vacationers go back to the city and leave us the best month of the year, September, all to ourselves.
The rest of the year, the town retains a laid-back atmosphere, yet offers the tourist or resident an ever-wider choice of places to dine-out, tapear (drink and tapa-bar crawl) and dance the night away. Sadly the “cine de verano” (open-air summer cinema) is no longer a part of the evening entertainment but enthusiasts of this wonderful institution can go to Cine Las Palmeras in the neighbouring village of La Cala. For the latest in air-conditioned, high-tech, super-sound, ergonomic-seated cinemas, the Rincón Centro Commercial (opened 2002) offers twenty screens.
Rincon de la Victoria’s greatest asset is its lively urban sea front and beach. From the westernmost cliff top, marked by a Moorish watch-tower, the view sweeps down the length of the sandy beach, past the clutter of blue and white fishing boats, chiringuitos (fish restaurants on the beach), palm trees, the occasional cluster of thatched sunshades, and the endless to-ing and fro-ing of promenaders, cyclists and joggers. The sea front itself, recently rebuilt and improved, stretches from one end of the town to the other.
Two popular walks with Rinconites are along the sea front to La Cala, and to the shrine of the town’s patron, the Virgin del Carmen, embedded in the rock at the westernmost tip of the beach. The route to La Cala cuts through the cliff-side, going through three rock-hewn tunnels. Once dark, dank, malodorous and full of holes and puddles, the tunnels have recently been done-up and lit-up to allow walkers and cyclists easy access. After the first tunnel, you can climb up the steps and follow the outcrop round for the scenic route, or carry on straight through until you come out at La Cala.
Apart from sea, sun, sand and succulent seafood, Rincón does have one or two sights worth seeing. The Casa Fuerte (fort) set in one of the town’s few green spaces doubles as an art gallery and occasional concert chamber. Dating back to the reign of Carlos III, the fortress was built in 1733 as part of the coastal defence against English pirate attacks.
Most visitors to the town take a trip to the famous Treasure Cave, “la Cueva del Tesoro”, located just outside the town in the residential area of El Cantal.
Sadly, what should be Rincon de la Victoria’s greatest touristic and historic focal point, the ruins of the Moorish medina town of Bezmiliana, has been jeopardised by uncontrolled construction work and nothing short of local government-approved vandalism. Citizens’ protest groups are currently fighting to halt building work on El Cerro de Castillón, the town’s largest remaining green area and site of the ancient town’s major fortress.
Like every other village and town in Andalucia, Rincón has its fair share of fiestas and festivals. The feria takes place in July and last for five days, coming to an end on the 16th, the day of the Virgen del Carmen. A folkloric spectacle of flower-decked thrones and boats, sailors and fishermen, cheering and veneration, rocket flares and fireworks, this is a festival not to be missed.